Quote: from Tony Finch on 12:29 am on Feb. 4, 2002
The idea that being vegetarian "serves a higher good" is both obscure and highly questionable.
The idea that a vegetarian diet in itself is "healthier" than a non-vegetarian diet is bogus.
I completely disagree with both points: 1) The "higher good" of not eating meat is that a plant-based diet (which you point out that many Indians adhere to out of necessity) conserves our natural resources better than raising cattle in a feedlot; cattle ranching, particularly on factory farms, is creating an environmental nightmare. Land must be cleared (in Brazil, acres of rainforest are cleared each minute
) in order for the cattle to graze, to roam, or even just to be penned up (as they usually are). Howard Lyman
- the ex-cattle rancher who told the truth on the Oprah
show and got sued by the ranchers for it - writes of the environmental nightmare that cattle ranching in this country has created in his book Mad Cowboy
2) It is also true that a vegetarian diet is healthier than a meat-based diet: Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer in the United States. This is because the standard diet that most Americans eat is meat- and dairy-based. There is irrefutable evidence that the incidence of heart disease among vegetarians is extremely low. (One statistic says that vegetarians are also 40% less likely to die from cancer.)
Another debilitating disease brought on by the consumption of animal-based protein is osteoporosis. The consumption of animal protein causes calcium to be leached out of the bones, so that the bones become weak and brittle; even taking calcium supplements is ineffective, because the animal protein blocks absorption of the additional calcium we're told to take. This condition is epidemic among America's senior citizens, who live in fear of icy sidewalks.
The good news for meat-eaters is that there are always new prescription drugs being developed. My mother, who at 68 has advanced osteoporosis, is participating in a study of osteoporosis, and her case has the doctors scratching their heads: she's not in the control (placebo) group; she's receiving the medication, but is continuing to have bone loss.
I know I'm outnumbered here; I also know that most people eat meat simply because they like the taste, and in our culture of supply and demand, animal cruelty and environmental damage are simply not issues for most people. I'm not out to change anyone's habits, especially since I know these message boards are mainly populated by upscale restaurant-goers who are mainly interested in the end product and are not concerned with what chemicals might have got in it along the way.
I've met plenty of people who "used to be" vegetarians for years at a time, and went back to eating meat. While they claim they're healthier and feel better eating meat than not, that claim itself is spurious: there is no nutrient - not even vitamin B12 - that can't be gotten from a plant-based diet.
I only quit eating eggs and dairy within the past year, and a good part of the reason I did was based on fear; given my family history, I'm a prime candidate for osteoporosis (even though it's said that the incidence of osteoporosis is not based on heredity: Asia, where they consume very little dairy, has a very low rate or osteoporosis). I also admit I may only live a few more years - no matter what my intentions - but I'll feel better, be more productive - and weigh less. True: milk is laden with hormones, some of which are designed to help a calf grow quickly and increase its body weight. They also help America to be the most obese (per capita) nation in the world.
(Edited by franklanguage at 6:50 pm on Feb. 4, 2002)